This summer, students and faculty in Appalachian State University’s Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development forged a unique partnership with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA), a local organization dedicated to strengthening Boone’s food system. Under the partnership, all excess food harvested at the university’s Blackburn Vannoy Teaching and Research Farm and in the campus gardens was collected and donated to families in need across the High Country.
Lindsey Giglio, a May 2016 sustainable development graduate who now works for BRWIA’s Community of Gardens program, approached the department with a proposal to work together. During her time as a student, she worked in the Sustainable Development Civic Garden and Appalachian’s Child Development Center Edible Schoolyard. While at the university, she saw a disconnect between the campus gardens and the community outside the center of town.
“There was always an excess of food in the campus gardens, and being familiar with the farm, I knew there was an excess there as well,” she said. “I wanted to make sure the food didn’t go to waste.”
Dr. Rick Rheingans, chair of the Department of Sustainable Development, is thrilled about the new partnership.
“Our department’s goals include supporting sustainable communities and bringing local and organic foods to area organizations and those in need,” he said. “One of our primary objectives is to address food insecurity in the area and develop creative and unique solutions that involve both students and the community.”
Since produce donations are perishable and refrigerator space is limited, one of Giglio’s primary challenges is managing the volume of donations and coordinating with several local organizations about delivery schedules. This summer’s recipients include the F.A.R.M. Cafe, Western Watauga Outreach, Hunger and Health Coalition, Louis E. Harrill Senior Center and Deerfield United Methodist Church, among others. To date, the farm and gardens have produced almost 300 pounds of donated produce, including fresh lettuce, broccoli, peppers, kale, squash and more.
As she continues her role with BRWIA’s Community of Gardens program, Giglio’s goal is to grow the volunteer base among the community and include more students by connecting with clubs on campus. She encourages everyone with a passion for solving local food insecurity to get involved.
“It’s so rewarding to see the recipients’ faces when we arrive with the donations,” she shared. “They are always surprised to get fresh food. I love seeing that all the food coming in has somewhere to go.”
About the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University prepares students to thoughtfully analyze human development while focusing on the applied practice of pursuing transformative, community-driven development and social change. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable development with concentrations in agroecology and sustainable agriculture; community, regional and global development; and environmental studies; as well as a Bachelor of Arts and minor in sustainable development.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.